Why do we talk around the truth?
When it comes time to communicate tough decisions or even EASY decisions that we know will be unpopular, we tend to avoid talking about exactly WHY these decisions are made. We avoid lying outright, but we don’t exactly share the information we COULD share to help people understand the reason for a change.
When we don’t talk straight, we are avoiding direct communication, and it sets us up for all kinds of problems.
The void created by the failure to communicate is soon filled with poison, drivel and misrepresentation” – C. Northcote Parkinson
What we don’t realize, is that by omission, we are in fact communicating messages to our people that we would never be caught sharing directly:
- “I don’t think you don’t deserve the truth.”
- “I can’t trust you with the facts.”
- “I don’t think you are competent enough to hear this.”
- “I really don’t know how to handle this.”
Can you imagine saying that to your team? Of course you can’t!
And yet time after time, we choose to talk around things in hopes that our people will be satisfied with the explanation as given, or we choose to avoid the conversation altogether in hopes that the entire issue will just go away.
And if you wait long enough, it might even feel like you got away with it.
But rest assured, your people got the message: They don’t deserve the truth. They can’t be trusted with the facts. You think they aren’t ready to hear it. You don’t know how to handle this.
And that message will resonate on a day to day basis, manifesting itself in a general mistrust of you and the organization, or a slow descent into disengagement (especially in the people who were once highly engaged).
It doesn’t have to be this way.
Your people CAN handle the truth!
If you trust your people with the facts, they will trust YOU with the decision. If you help them understand the “whys” behind things, they won’t have to worry about being “ready” to hear the whole story. If you help them see the big picture, they will believe in you and your ability to handle similar situations in the future!
Have the courage to share information. Have the courage to be held accountable.
If you hold yourself accountable to the thinking that influenced your decision (even it it changes later), your people will be willing to be held accountable as part of the solution.
Again, your people CAN handle the truth!
But it has to start with YOU.